Hold your finger on the shutter button of a modern camera for 10 seconds and you can take dozens of photographs. Go into the landscape for a day and you could quite easily take hundreds of photographs with no sort of special effort. Whilst this is of course a key advantage of digital photography, it can also be a downfall. Your landscape photography will be judged by the strength of your portfolio. Therefore, it is important to self-edit and keep the standard of your work high....Read More
People often ask me if the colours in my landscape photography have been enhanced in some way. My answer is always the same - I tell people that if they stop the next time they are outside at sunrise or sunset and take the time to stop and watch the landscape, they will see amazing colours too....Read More
As summer slowly ends and we move towards autumn the sun is setting further to the south. Due to the shape of Northern Ireland's coastline, at this time of year you will need to go west if you want to keep a very low sun in your composition. With that in mind, my friend and I went to Benone Strand last week. At this time of the year (early September), the sun sets along the length of the beach and this allows for some really beautiful telephoto landscape photographs in which you can include both the sun and the beach in the frame.
(I have been told that the location I took these photographs from might actually be Downhill Beach, rather than Benone Strand, but a little research shows that the boundary is in dispute! The most common theory is that the Umbra Burn, shown in the landscape photograph above, divides the two.)
The Umbra Burn, which is a minor river, flows from the nearby cliffs and hills, exiting onto the sand and creating an ever changing landscape. If you can prevent yourself getting distracted by the beauty around you, the river is extremley interesting. Take a moment to study all of the different textures in my photograph. I also love the lines in the image which all draw the eye towards the overcast yet beautiful sky. The sand 'cliffs' at the edge of the water were quite literally changing before our eyes. On several occasions in a short space of time I heard loud splashes and watched huge slabs of sand fall into the water. I reckon that a timelapse of these changes over a period of a few hours would be really interesting to watch (if a bit boring to make!).
When I saw this big black rock sticking out of the sand I knew that it would make a great focal point in a landscape photograph if I could find a composition to compliment it. Using the lines to lead the eye diagonally out to the sea seemed like a way to visually balance the photograph and I'm very happy with the result.
As the sun dipped closer to the horizon the colours in the sky became more and more dramatic, both in terms of their strength and their beauty. This is a very shallow beach so I was able to, despite the fact I was only wearing a pair of Merrell Moab GTX outdoor shoes, walk through the surf without getting wet. However, during this exposure which was the first of a 3 shot sequence, a huge wave came rushing in, catching me unaware and absolutely soaking my lower legs. Not exactly life threatening, but a clear reminder of just how dangerous and random waves can be.
It was worth getting wet though, I'm really pleased with this landscape photograph, especially the little highlights of intense colour in the waves at the bottom of the photograph.
This will definitely me a beach I return to again over the autumn and winter months in the search of more great light!
'The Bowl' - a unique rock formation found on Whiterocks Beach, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.Read More
I visited Roe Valley Park near Limavady to capture some autumn colours. I was not left disappointed and I hope you enjoy reading about my short adventure in this beautiful gorge.Read More
A landscape photographer's guide to Dunluce Castle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.Read More
Dunseverick, County Antrim - Northern Ireland Landscape Photography by Stephen Dickey
One of the most important stages of converting your RAW landscape photograph in software such as Lightroom is determining your white balance. The white balance you choose determines the colours in your image. Think of it as the foundation of all your colour work that follows - saturation, hue etc.
My own experience as a landscape photographer has taught me that, during the golden hour and onwards into dusk, the camera's automatic white balance struggles to find a useable white balance. It often leaves the image with a very strong colour cast, typically cool in tone.
In the slideshow above you can see a landscape photograph I captured at Dunsererick Harbour, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. I have converted the RAW file several times, altering only the white balance. The best way to show the difference in white balance is to show you visually.
You can see that the 'as shot' white balance, which is what the camera automatically determined, contains a lot of magenta and doesn't feel like the sunset I was fortunate enough to enjoy.
Next is the 'auto' setting. Note that this is the automatic setting in Lightroom, not the 'as shot' value which was determined automatically by the camera. This makes the situation even worse and moves the colours further away from what I remember the scene looking like.
One might assume that by choosing a white balance setting which matched the weather conditions prevalent in the photograph, the correct result would be obtained. Whilst the 'cloudy' setting is closer to reality is still isn't quite warm enough.
I have found that in most circumstances, taking a custom white balance from a white breaking wave produces a very good result. I use this technique in many of my landscape photographs. If that fails then taking a reading from a grey cloud also works well. However, in this case I feel the best result was obtained from the wave.
In conclusion, don't feel tied down to choosing a white balance preset for your landscape photographs. Take the time to experiment and build that strong colour foundation that your work deserves!
A RAW workflow for landscape photography.Read More